Skip links

Facts about Henry Hudson for Kids


Henry Hudson was an English sea explorer and navigator in the early 17th century. Hudson made two attempts on behalf of English merchants to find a prospective Northwest Passage to Cathay (today’s China) via a route above the Arctic Circle. Hudson explored the region around modern New York metropolitan area while looking for a western route to Asia under the auspices of the Dutch East India Company.

  • In 1611, after wintering on the shore of James Bay, Hudson wanted to press on to the west, but most of his crew mutinied.
  • In 1607, the Muscovy Company of the Kingdom of England hired Hudson to find a northerly route to the Pacific coast of Asia.
  • It was thought at the time that, because the sun shone for three months in the northern latitudes in the summer, the ice would melt and a ship could make it across the top of the world.
  • Here they named a headland “Young’s Cape”, a “very high mount, like a round castle” near it “Mount of God’s Mercy” and land at 73° N “Hold-with-Hope”.
  • On the 16th they reached as far north as Hakluyt’s Headland (which Thomas Edge claims Hudson named on this voyage) at 79° 49′ N, thinking they saw the land continue to 82° N (Svalbard’s northernmost point is 80° 49′ N) when really it trended to the east.
  • Hudson wanted to make his return “by the north of Greenland to Davis his Streights (Davis Strait), and so for Kingdom of England,” but ice conditions would have made this impossible.
  • Many authors have wrongly stated that it was the discovery of large numbers of whales in Spitsbergen waters by Hudson during this voyage that led to several nations sending whaling expeditions to the islands.
  • While he did indeed report seeing many whales, it was not his reports that led to the trade, but that by Jonas Poole in 1610 which led to the establishment of English whaling and the voyages of Nicholas Woodcock and Willem Cornelisz.
  • On September 3 he reached the estuary of the river that initially was called the “North River” or “Mauritius” and now carries his name.
  • He managed to pass the log to the Dutch ambassador to England, who sent it, along with his report, to Amsterdam.
  • Hudson spent the following months mapping and exploring its eastern shores, but he and his crew did not find a passage to Asia.
  • Descriptions of the successful mutiny are one-sided, because the only survivors who could tell their story were the mutineers and those who went along with the mutiny.
  • Allegedly in the latter class was ship’s navigator Abacuk Pricket, a survivor who kept a journal that was to become a key source for the narrative of the mutiny.
  • This allowed the Hudson’s Bay Company to exploit a lucrative fur trade along its shores for more than two centuries, growing powerful enough to influence the history and present international boundaries of Western North America.